Did Origen teach reincarnation? A response to neo-Gnostic theories of Christian reincarnation with particular reference to Origen and to the Second Council of Constantinople (553)

Schlesinger, Dan R. (2016) Did Origen teach reincarnation? A response to neo-Gnostic theories of Christian reincarnation with particular reference to Origen and to the Second Council of Constantinople (553). MPhil(R) thesis, University of Glasgow.

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Abstract

Modern proponents of ancient Gnosticism claim that Jesus Christ, the Apostles, and the early Church fathers embraced reincarnation. However, their attempts to associate reincarnation with early Christianity belie their metaphysical bias, which is the basis of their historical revisionism.
Because their hermeneutics are flawed, the neo-Gnostic interpretation of Scripture differs significantly from traditional Christian interpretations. In order to justify their doctrines of karma and reincarnation, neo-Gnostics revise Church history so that it reflects their metaphysical worldview. Their attempt to revise church history, creates the illusion that the Bible teaches reincarnation. However, neither the Old or New Testaments teaches reincarnation, which is why the neo-Gnostic preconceptions are baseless.
The neo-Gnostic claim that the early fathers embraced reincarnation is also false. Indeed, the overwhelming evidence indicates that they repudiated reincarnation. Moreover, the neo-Gnostic assumption that Origen embraced transmigration because he assimilated Neo-Platonic ideas, is baseless. While he investigated the subject of transmigration, he rejected it because it was not compatible with Christian belief.
The facts surrounding the Fifth General Council (553) contradict the neo-Gnostic notion that clerics excised reincarnation from the Bible. Rather, the council issued anathemas against the Origenist’ and their hyper-Origen views, and not against Origen. The weight of scholarly opinion supports this contention. Moreover, the development and final canonization of the New Testament by the fourth century precludes the possibility that reincarnation was a biblical doctrine in the sixth century. Manuscripts dating from the second through sixth century bear this out.
The neo-Gnostics argue that Origen’s writings prove the he embraced transmigration of souls. However, while some passages seem to suggest that he embraced it, a closer examination of them indicate that he did not. Indeed, most scholars agree that reliable translations of Origen demonstrate that he rejected transmigration. Moreover, Origen’s response to Celsus’ attack against Christian belief, leaves no doubt that he rejected transmigration of souls.
Finally, the concepts of karma and reincarnation are fundamentally opposed to Christianity. Not only are they theologically and etymologically unrelated, they are inherently contradictory. Indeed, neither the Bible, the Rule of Faith, or Christian creeds or confession, mentions reincarnation! The neo-Gnostic claim that the early Christian’s embraced reincarnation until its excision from the Bible in 553, is therefore, false.

Item Type: Thesis (MPhil(R))
Qualification Level: Masters
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BL Religion
B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BR Christianity
Colleges/Schools: College of Arts > School of Critical Studies > Theology and Religious Studies
Supervisor's Name: Methuen, Dr. Charlotte
Date of Award: 2016
Depositing User: Mr. Dan R. Schlesinger
Unique ID: glathesis:2016-7845
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 04 May 2017 11:08
Last Modified: 10 Jun 2017 12:36
URI: http://theses.gla.ac.uk/id/eprint/7845

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